Inside Report: Police jury looks like reality TV

The most successful reality TV shows today either feature colorful personalities with conservative, Southern roots or brash “housewives” who entertain millions each week with staged dinners filled with shouting, name-calling and, sometimes, table-flipping.

But there’s a powerful group of people in Pointe Coupee Parish that’s just as colorful, boisterous and controversial as any real housewife on Bravo. But its antics aren’t being filmed — maybe they should be.

Members of the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury haven’t started flipping over tables yet, but there has been enough name-calling and behind-the-scenes drama lately to rival the most popular television shows.

And Jury President Melanie Bueche is sick of it.

She recently tried addressing the issue with a scolding lecture asking certain jurors to stop running to the media with false accusations aimed at hurting employees. However, Bueche’s speech only fanned the flames of frustration several jurors have with her leadership.

“Some citizens see our outbursts as disgusting,” Bueche read from a prepared statement at the jury’s regular meeting on Aug. 12. “We are here to work together and make our parish a wonderful place to live. If you are truly here for the right thing, you wouldn’t be showing your tail to world.”

In her statement, Bueche referenced the string of controversies that have been splashed across news headlines.

Among the hot-button issues were the issuance of a building permit where several jurors alleged a developer unfairly received a $20,000 discount because he’s friends with a juror and a pending investigation into employees’ use of parish-issued fuel cards.

“I know much of this is being done to topple the police jury form of government and replace it with a parish council system,” Bueche said. “If your group can whip us down, you’ll win, and I’ll accept that. But you shouldn’t be destroying people’s character or reputations … just to win.”

Bueche’s words ruffled the feathers of jurors Albert “Dewey” Dukes, Justin Cox and Kurt Jarreau, who felt they were the group Bueche was referring to.

“For you to sit here and read that statement you just read is confusing,” Dukes responded. “What you need to do is when you get home, look in the mirror and read that to yourself.”

Dukes accused Bueche of damaging his reputation by removing him from committees after the parish’s administrator and recreation director filed a lawsuit against him.

In the lawsuit, the two men allege they were subjected to verbal and physical abuse from Dukes.

Cox told Bueche any allegations he has brought up were backed with documented proof of wrongdoing.

“Every time I went to media, it was because I wanted to talk about an issue, but this jury as a whole voted not to hear it,” he said.

Cox also called Bueche a hypocrite.

“I’ve had jurors that had to be escorted out the room because they were hollering and cussing at me, and you don’t do anything about that. It’s not fair,” he said. “You say I was terrorizing the jury by bringing these issues up. If you call me holding people accountable terrorism, then that’s what it is.”

Jarreau admitted he thinks the Police Jury should let voters decide whether they want to shift to a parish council form of government — something that has been resisted in the past.

If the in-fighting continues, Jarreau could get his wish.

But first, Hollywood may want to capitalize on the drama.

Westside bureau chief Terry Jones can be reached at tjones@theadvocate.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.